Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band, he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Days and weeks passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths, only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a brick wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to make you happy.”
Where does your light shine? Pope Emeritus Benedict’s birthday was this past Easter Sunday and he asked for no special recognition for himself on that day, “Nothing should detract from our celebration and profession of the Lord’s Resurrection.” Where does your light shine?
St. Matthew tells us in his Gospel, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father” (Mt 5:14-16).
The King of Kings knelt and washed His disciples’ feet. What Jesus did, so must we also do. In order for us to glorify God we must become the least among us and serve the needs of others. This is how our light shines. What others see is our good deeds. What others experience is the presence of Christ.
I had the privilege of being a chaperone at this year’s youth rally at Bishop Connolly High School. Cooper Ray, the guest speaker, shared with the youth at the rally that they are made for greatness. Yet many people limit themselves to a small comfort zone and never leave to experience the greatness that awaits them. Like Cooper said, we tend to see only the kiddie pool and miss the water park in front of us. Who are we in this massive universe? We are a beacon of light and hope for others. You are made for greatness simply because that is God’s will for you. What you do with that greatness is your choice. You can see the world as a paradise and share it, or, you can choose to see only the brick wall and your light will go no farther.
Happy Easter and God bless!
Anchor columnist Ozzie Pacheco is Faith Formation director at Santo Christo Parish, Fall River.